Saturday, 5 October 2013

HEADS AND TOES by Holly Oliver

HEADS AND TOES by Holly Oliver

The word, "Lovely", is somewhat overused, especially by me, but sometimes when it is used to describe some experience, some person or some thing which (or who) is unique and special, it is the perfect adjective to choose and so it is in the case of this shoot, this photograph and this photographer. I don't use Twitter that much (I tweet about once a week on average, I guess) but when I do, I often put UK photographer into the search engine and, on one such occasion in August 2013, I came across Holly Oliver who was not only a photographer and a very good but also she was based in Brighton, now my home town.

So lucky (and lovely) Holly received my usual email which differs very little from the inaugural email sent out at the beginning of the project in 2008 (NB although the first photograph in the project was taken in 2007, I didn't realise it was a project until early 2008). She apologised for taking a whole day to reply (lazy) but thanked me (polite) and said that she would love to photograph me (lovely her and lucky me). Over the course of the next few weeks, we slowly formulated an idea for the shoot which ended up taking place on the Harbour Wall at Brighton Marina with Holly, in the main, using her polaroid camera. Holly was a bright and breezy email correspondent but even so, it was a very pleasant surprise to experience the brightness and breeziness at first hand when I met her for the shoot on 5th October 2013.

The main memory I have of our time together was that it was so easy. We met in the Red Roaster, a cool little coffee place in Kemptown and, after an initial chat, we caught the bus to the Marina and walked to the Sea Wall which that day was populated by a number of fishermen. The sea was quite calm and wore a beautiful silver blue sheen as it rose and swelled and pushed gently towards the beach stretching across to the Pier. The anglers seemed a happy bunch and, although they reminded me of the scene in ''Play it again, Sam'' when the exultant Woody Allen thumped a fisherman joyously on the back sending him headlong into the river below, I managed to resist letting my joyousness get the better of me and the worse of any of the anglers. It was a close run thing though.
Eventually, we found a suitable spot and, two packs of old polaroid film later, it was all over pretty quickly. We ambled back to the bus stop chatting all the while and then parted at the Old Steine. A few days later, I received these two sets as well as individual scans of each picture. They are not as "finished" as most of my photographs and, by their very nature, they were never likely to be. However, what they do is really conjure up the whole feel of the shoot. Individually, I like them all but, when I saw this montage with Holly's toes in the shot, I felt that this had to be the one for my project.
Holly brought round the original polaroids the other day and it was like being given a piece of glittering jewellery. Each print is a diamond. A precious unique item that I can touch and look at and put back and take out again. And every time I do so, I feel rich, as rich as a very rich man with a loving family, a good and happy life, loyal and devoted friends, laughter in my life, freedom, favourite books and LPs and singles, photographs, DVDs and amongst them all in a small cardboard box some treasure which was given to me that day that Holly took me to Brighton Marina.

Holly and Me


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